Author: Casey Matthews Genre: Urban Fantasy F/F
“The dark is terrible, surrounds you, and is never empty as it seems. Though monsters lurke, know this: none is hungrier than me.”
I’ve tried to pen this review a few times, but my praise always falls short of what I think this book deserves. In this instance, to not write a review would be a greater disservice to Matthews and the book that I loved than to write one that feels inadequate, so here my thoughts finally are:
The One Who Eats Monsters is incredible. It’s brilliant. It doesn’t shy away from serious issues, and instead embraces them like an old friend, saying “hey look, shit happens, trauma exists, and you can keep going”. It’s a stance that can be difficult to take, and even more difficult to execute, and in this instance it is done well.
The One Who Eats Monsters is (predictably) the story of a girl who fights both literal monsters with supernatural powers, and the twisted humans lurking in the shadows, looking for vulnerable people to prey upon.
The premise offers both its fair share of darkness and humour when ancient God Ryn is rescued by an American military group, mistaken for a feral teenager, brought back to the US, and thrust into the role of an ordinary high school student. Despite her advanced age and power as a deity, Ryn has had very little contact with people, and has never interacted with humans as an equal. Furthermore, she’s small, female, and seemingly young, and therefore doesn’t look like someone who could hold her own in a fight. Ryn loves fighting. Her first (and only real) rule given to her by her social worker is “no hospitalizations” of other people, a rule that she struggles to follow in her day-to-day life.
Ryn spends the rest of the book hunting both literal monsters, and human predators, until she meets her very first friend, Naomi. Naomi is Ryn’s opposite. She’s kind and charming, slow to anger, dislikes violence, and has had a tremendously wonderful, normal human upbringing. She brings balance to Ryn’s darkness, drawing her out of her shell, answering questions that Ryn (understandably) doesn’t even know to ask in regards to her naivety about people and modern American society. Nobody in this book is perfect, but Naomi comes awfully close, in part because of how Ryn sees her.
There are many characters in this book, but everyone is memorable, and the cast is filled with lovable people all doing their best in a world that isn’t always kind or fair.
I loved it. I loved the darkness of it, and how well the small bursts of budding romance and humour balanced it out. I loved Ryn and Naomi and their tentative relationship that slowly swayed from friends to romantic interests. I loved the action scenes, which were perhaps the best I’ve ever read. I loved the language, the gritty details, the infusion of the fantastic and the everyday. I loved the hint of what’s to come, of the bigger story the end of TOWEM was hinting at.
My only complaint is that there doesn’t seem to be a very vocal community for what was a splendid book when all I want is to sink into a fandom and look at pretty fan art, and I can’t blame the book for that! (Seriously though, if there’s some tiny community hiding somewhere for TOWEM, can someone please send me an invite or something?)
I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for book two!